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COVID forces postponement of NZ’s largest gala dinner

“Disappointing but necessary” is how Property Council New Zealand chief executive Leonie Freeman describes the forced postponement of the country’s largest gala dinner event, the Property Council New Zealand Rider Levett Bucknall Property Industry Awards.

The 2021 gala dinner had sold over 1,500 tickets and was scheduled to take place at Spark Arena, Auckland this Friday 20 August. The event will now take place on Friday 29 October 2021.

“Thanks to the tremendous efforts of our suppliers we have been able to donate all pre-purchased food items to the Auckland City Mission, which is a wonderful silver-lining to the unfortunate circumstances”, says Freeman.

The annual event has been postponed for the second time in its 24-year history, with two postponements in 2020 moving the event from June to September before it was eventually able to be run in November.

“In 2020 we were fortunate to be able to hold the event, as the Government announced a community case in Auckland mere hours prior to us opening the doors but didn’t officially lockdown the city. We made the difficult decision to go ahead as unfortunately the lack of clarity meant none of the cancellation clauses in our supplier contracts were triggered. Had we cancelled, the organisation would have faced a very difficult financial hurdle”, says Freeman.

“While this year’s postponement is disappointing, the clarity provided by the Ministry of Health coupled with strong contingency planning by our team has meant we are much better placed to pivot the event at short notice.

“We surveyed our members late last year to canvas opinion on whether in a case such as this the event should be postponed or held virtually, and the response was resoundingly in favour of postponement. We do have a full recording of the awards ceremony as a contingency but will continue to do all we can to bring this event to our members as an in-person offering.

“It’s certainly no small task to reschedule an event of this magnitude and we thank our suppliers, sponsors and members for their support over this time.

“We applaud the Ministry of Health and government for their swift and decisive action and look forward to being able to bring the industry together once again in October, COVID-willing,” says Freeman.

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